Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Steppe - Questions for Discussion and Review

1. The Classical Greek philosophical school of Skepticism holds that any knowledge of a physical universe is impossible. What is the horrific implication of Skepticism as presented by The Steppe?

2. What is the “gloriful” implication?

3. Moore’s argument for “common sense” over Skepticism, often summed up by the phrase: “Here is a hand,” argues that there is no more logical basis to distrust the perceptions of your senses than there is to trust them. How does Baatar address this argument?

4. Wittgenstein’s argument against Skepticism claims that Skepticism is thinkable only through a misuse of language, specifically through confusion regarding the contextual meaning and usage of the verb “to know.” How does Baatar address this argument?

5. How might The Steppe actually be considered a reductio ad absurdum argument against Skepticism?

6. Solipsism is the absence of belief that other human beings exist as consciousnesses. Despite the acknowledged logical consistency of Solipsism, there has never been a Solipsistic philosopher. Is Baatar a Solipsist?

7. Consider the original final line of The Steppe: “This narrative is dedicated to you, the reader, though I do not know and cannot know whether you exist.” Is Neuhalfen a Solipsist?

8. Consider Rad as an unreliable narrator who reports only his own subjective reality which, in the course of The Steppe, changes through exposure to Baatarism. How might the supernatural elements of Rad’s narration be explained naturally? (For example, in “Chapter Twenty-Two: Makhchin,” despite what Rad describes, an observer might report Rad killing and eating his own horse.)

9. How does The Steppe’s lack of a narrative counterpoint to Rad’s subjective reality reinforce the philosophical tenets of Baatarism?

10. One of The Steppe’s epigraphs alludes to Beowulf and one is taken from the epic poem itself. How is Baatar like Beowulf?

11. How is Baatar like Grendel?

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